In my non social state after surgery, I am becoming slightly annoyed. The question is – why? I have no idea. Before, during, and after my surgery I received many lovely messages wishing me the best, and asking how I was. Here is the problem. That is a very hard question (as discussed in a previous post). I never know how to responded. I am not one to complain, but at the same time I do not want people thinking this has been a cake walk. Here is the bigger dilema – If you do not ask how I am doing, that bothers me as well. Hello? I just had surgery and you want to talk to me about your day? Not interested. So I guess there is just no pleasing me (typical female).
A long time ago I decided I was not a pill popper. I would leave my headaches to almost the point of no return before I would take an Advil. This was not always the wisest decision, but for some reason I did not want to take the pill. With my surgeries I have done the same thing. The previous two I was on all sorts of pain medication – and my body became addicted. It was a scary thing. I was experiencing withdrawals and it took me close to two months to safely come off of them. With this surgery I explained all of my concerns during my pre-op. I told them the only drug that was ok to give me, and they agreed. What I began to notice in the hospital right away when I woke up is how drugged up I felt. (And no I am not talking RIGHT when I woke up – obviously) Even with a minimal amount of pain medicine, I was still very loopy and do not remember much. I know pain control is a very serious thing post op. You can cause more damage if you stay stiff and do not get up from a laying down position. Even still, second day in the hospital I decided I would push past the pain and stop taking the pain medication. This has been difficult. I am at home now but am still struggling. I of course feel better with each day, but it is still very painful. Not only am I sore and swollen down my left side of my ribs, but my shoulder and neck are all out of wack. At first I could not figure out why – then we realized the position they must have flung me in during surgery. My arm was pulled tight above my head for two hours – no wonder I am in pain. With pain comes insomnia. It is extremely difficult to sleep when you are in constant discomfort. Still – I choose to endure. The “high” feeling I receive from the drugs is not fun for me. I know this pain will not last – and therefore I am ok with my decision. I just began this morning to take an Advil to help with the joint pain however. Having a piece of your lung cut out is one thing, but having a stiff neck is another.
As my surgery date approaches, I begin to contemplate what lies ahead for me on the other side. As the doctor appointments become further and further apart, and life starts to return to normal – questions begin to arise. Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be? How do I want to live the rest of my life?
It slowly becomes more clear with each passing day. The easy answer is simple – I choose to live.
The bank offers a large mortgage. Do you use the whole sum just because it was offered to you? What kind of life will you then have? Yes, you will have a beautiful home – but how else will you choose to spend your time? How fun is it really to stay in every night because you cannot afford to go out? Before I would have said yes. I would have found a way to make it all work. Now – that is just foolish. Why cause stress when it is not needed? When I am not working I want to be able to do things – whether it be a casual night out or an expensive vacation. Either way I want to be living a life instead of sitting on my money. (That is a fantastic term that was recently said to me by a certain friend – you know who you are 😉 ).
While we are on the topic – let’s talk about work. I love work. I like having a purpose for my day. I enjoy the social aspect. I like the feeling that comes over me when I complete a project and I see it live. (By live, I mean online – I work in ecommerce. Have I mentioned that before?) If you work in a field that you enjoy and are passionate about, it is easy to go into work everyday. Working a little overtime never bothered me because I enjoy what I do.
Work however, should not be the only reason to get up in the morning. I am not “working for the weekend”, as the song goes – but I do plan on enjoying my time away from work. It is hard not to bring your work home with you if you are a workaholic like myself. It is easy however to look back and think “man, I wish I went on that trip”. You never hear anyone say, “Ten years ago I wanted to go on vacation, but chose to work instead. Totally do not regret that”. You are given vacation days for a reason. If you are worried that your boss will look down on you for wanting time off – then maybe they are not the right boss for you. (I am thankful not to have this problem 🙂 ) It is healthy to want a break. You need a mental break. Most people (and by most, I could probably say all) work harder when they are happy. Who would ever be happy working 80 hours a week, 365 days a year? Work hard – yes. Choose work over your life – no.
That being said – if you know your work is busy during certain times of the year – do not be a fool and ask to book time off then. That is just dumb.
Unless you are close to me, here are a list of things that are off the table for conversation.
1. My “healthy” appearance. Yes – I get it – you thought that all cancer patients on chemo end up looking like a clothes hanger. Well newsflash – steriods cause water retention. With chemo comes steriods. Everyone reacts differently, however it is very common to swell up from them. No one would ever say to someone they barely see, “Oh wow, you have put on a few.” So please refrain from using the word “healthy” around me. I know what you are implying.
2. My experience with chemo. Sometimes I receive the question, “Well other than all the regular symtoms that come with chemo.. blah blah blah.. how else has it affected you?” Are you serious? Do you even understand how invasive this question is? First of all, all of the “blah blah blah” parts about the chemo suck. Nausea, hair loss, cold sweats, etc – are not a “blah blah blah”. Second of all – you barely know me. Why would I go into details about how it has most likely burned away all of my eggs – so a baby is off the table. Go fuck yourself.
3. How much my insurance company pays me to be on disability. Money should never be discussed. Stop asking.
4. What my sex life is now like. Seriously?
5. How I am even able to smile after everything I have been through. Well I am alive, so that’s a positive.
6. Did I lose my hair everywhere *wink*. Yes – It is weird to not have nose hair.
7. It must be amazing to not have to worry about fixing up your hair everyday. True – however I would still choose hair over no hair. And how do you know that I am not crying every night because I hate my buzz cut. (I’m not by the way – no need to be concerned.) The point is – you don’t know. I may smile in public but cry in private.
8. If I have lost friends because of this whole thing. The simple answer is – yes. However again, why do you need to remind me of the shit.
9. How I am doing (with the low tone and sad face). Fine. I will always say “fine” to you. No one really wants to hear my day in and day out struggles – just like I don’t want to hear about theirs.
10. My surgeries. They haunt me. I had terrible experiences in the hospital. Do not make me think about those images while I am eating.
The only exception to this rule is if you yourself are about to go through something similar. Then I know you are just asking for your own personal knowledge. If that’s the case, I am more than happy to go into detail about anything you wish to have answered.
This is taken out of Jerry Seinfeld’s book “Seinlanguage“, from 1993. It perfectly sums up exactly why most people are not even close to my level.
Yes Jerry, that is exactly what I did in the last 12 months – I didn’t die.
Also, for the people who say – “Oh, don’t remind me how old I am turning.”, “I have decided to be ____ forever, that was a good age.”, “Oh my gosh I stopped getting carded at the liquor store – This is horrible.”, “Ew I can’t believe I am turning ___.”
You people are also not on my level.
What did you accomplish from your last birthday to your next?
You renovated your kitchen.
You started a new job.
You cut out gluten. (Well except those three times you were drunk and ate pizza, but that doesn’t count.)
Myself? I told death to go fuck itself. That is why I am celebrating.
Each birthday to me is a huge milestone from this point on. It is another year I won. We should all think this way. There are so many terrible things out there that can take our precious lives at any moment. To make it another year is a major accomplishment. When we were young we could not wait to celebrate our birthday. All we wanted to do was be another year older. We said our age with pride. As the years pass everything changes. Asking someone’s age can be seen as an insult. In fact, most people lie about their age. They always strive to be younger. This should change. You should shout from the rooftop how many years you have survived on this planet. With so many things against you – you have made it. There are a countless number of people in this world that wish they could have lived to your age.
So I hold my head high and am proud to say I have made it to 29. I will always choose to celebrate my birthday.